Wednesday, March 02, 2005

well, almost up and running...

The storms weren't quite over yet, and we got hit with another big front, so big that our roof sprung multiple leaks. In order to fix these leaks, they tore down the sat dishes and my system was down for a little while.

Over the past week and half,we conducted another Cooperative Medical Assistance visit, this time to Sabari district (in the North of Khost province) and were able to serve over 700 people. With leaves, and a familial emergency, we also had a change in our staffing so that I am now covering much of the command responsibilities. When I asked for "downrange" little did I know I would be acting as the PRT commander...what a thrill, and what a workload. As long as I know this is leading to imprvements in the situation here, I feel like it's worth every bit of personal investment.

Since my last posting, we have alsom made significatn progress in different areas. seems like we have enough time to finsih a posting. I have to rush off to another meeting. More to follow...

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The "storm of a century" beginning to thaw

You might all have already read that Afghanistan is being pummelled with the "worst" storm in many decades. Many of the elders don't even remember sno being on the mountains around Khost bowl, and now they're covered with the white stuff. It's the "worst" because as you might also know, a state of emergency has been called, several roads are closed due to snow and mudslides (roads truly are the lynchpin to any state: they provide security, economic development and access to much needed emergency and other services), many vilages are without power and cannot provide food or warmth to their inhabitants, and even humanitarian assistance cannot be flown in due to the bad weather.
I remember when I returned from Simone's dissertation defense that a change had occurred. There was a change in the climatic weather (it had gotten cold almost overnight) as well as in the political environment (it was right after the Presidential election). "Things" have been quiet: the ACF (relatively fair weather anti-coalition forces don't maneuver much in the winter),and most of the country has been disabled from most development efforts, it's just to difficult to move.
Two days ago, the weather changed in this Afghan Florida known as Khost. Albeit, we have continued with much of our work in the lower elevations, the mountainous areas could not support cement work or other activities. I was almost shocked at how much work is being done in downtown, not only by us, the foreigners, but by the municipality and district sub-governors. They appear to recognize that we have a limited window (until the relatively myopic American public grows tired of supporting this effort) to move as far forward as we all can...together. And that's the part that most imporesses me. Whether in uniform or not, we are almost always welcomed into an area and made aware of what the locals are doing on their own - they have figured out that this is the best way to gain our support. Many locals attribute the strong winter and much needed end of an almsot decade long drought to Allah being pleae: no more poppies and working with the enablers, instead of seeking to prolong any war.
Today I ahve no meetings and am wearing shorts and a T-shirt. I indeed feel like this is the Spring, the fresh and new beginning, of a new future for Afghanistan. One that they will determine on their own, with a little help from their friends.
On a personal note, we had also not recieved mail in nearly two months, and yesterday I finally recieved my Pashto language CDROMs, whcih I am dedicated to studying once a month. The little bit I have already learned already opens doors; I can't wait until I can actually converse to gain more insight.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Launched today!

Hi y'all... (can you tell I miss Austin?) I just arrived back in Khost today from a three day visit to Kabul. It's good to be back "downrange," and more importantly, I now finally dedicated Internet access and no worries of losing the day's thoughts and experiences to Internet never-neverland. - and I can finally live up to my new year's resolution.

Gosh where to begin? We (Carl, the PRT Commander) Gov. Pathan and I primarily went to Kabul this time to attend a press conference on Khost. Seems that our efforts are starting to pay off, and for a non- Alternative Livelihoods provnce (more about hat anti-poppy program later), we have made enough progress in this "tiny" province to set the example for many other areas. Not trying to brag, but I do feel like we are making a significant contribution to the war on terror. In fact, driving and then walking through downtown Khost on my return today, several (of course also curious) friendly folks warmly greeted us. It's come a loooooong way since a now General, then Colonel, once called this "the most dangerous place on earth" three years ago. What is almost unbelievable is the rate at which the locals are also working to rebuild and further develop their own country. Many of our projects are coooperative with the district, provincial and even national governments.

Ok, many more details to come, but just wanted to start (taking the first step in a journey of sharing my experiences with you.) I miss the good times we have had, and look forward to many more to come in the (relatively) near future.

Hook 'em Horns!